Sunday, February 04, 2024

Mount Rubidoux Hike (plus Tio's Tacos)

After visiting my mother in Riverside, Tori and I drove over to hike to the top of Mount Rubidoux with my brother, Jake, our sister-in-law, Becca, and niece, Nyla. The boulder-covered hill near downtown rises 484 feet over the Santa Ana River that crosses along its base. The riverbed is normally dry but we could see flowing water from the recent rains. As we hiked up the paved trail, we had a great view of the snow covered peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains to the East. Nyla had a lot of fun scrambling through every boulder field we passed.

Two circular paths ring the hillside and as we neared the top, we switched onto the inner summit ring. Circling counter-clockwise, we passed the Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge that were built in 1925 before climbing to the lower summit with the large American Flag. We then crossed the saddle to the highest peak with the Serra Cross that was erected in 1907. The hilltop became famous for its Easter Sunrise Services that started in 1909 and soon spread around the country. Even though the gathering rain clouds prevented a beautiful sunset, we still had great views of the area.

After descending from our 3 mile hike, so we drove over to Tio's Tacos for dinner since my brother's family had never been to the art-filled Mexican restaurant. They must rotate some of the art pieces since I see something new every time I visit.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Bella Laguna Viewpoint (Batiquitos Lagoon Sunset)

We visited the Bella Laguna Viewpoint for the first time to watch the sun set over the Batiquitos Lagoon. It was a clear day and we could easily see the Catalina & San Clemente Islands and as far as the San Gorgonio Mountain to the East. The short viewpoint trail is inside a gated community but you can park on Bella Vista Drive and enter through the City of Encinitas’ Bella Vista Trail.

We returned a week later with Chad to hike the nearby spur trail off of Swallowtrail Road. The trail follows the ridgeline into the Barelman Open Space with another wonderful view of Batiquitos Lagoon.

Mission San Luis Rey (plus Pioneer Cemetery)

Tori and I visited Mission San Luis Rey yesterday in Oceanside for the first time. Founded in 1798, it was the eighteenth of the twenty-one missions established in California and named after the King of France. Nicknamed "King of the Missions", it covered almost a million acres at its peak and was the largest and most prosperous of all the missions, maintaining 56,000 livestock. Our first stop was the mission church, built in 1815, it is the only surviving one laid out in a cruciform plan. It is also unique for its wooden dome and cupola allowing in light through its 144 panes of glass.

The old mission complex spread out over six acres and was the largest building in California by 1830. Leaving the church, we walked over to the modern Quadrangle where the Carriage Arch still stands. The original quadrangle was a giant four-sided patio surrounded by buildings filled with workshops, classrooms, a kitchen, an infirmary, a winery and dormitories for the Indian converts. The first Peruvian Pepper Tree planted in California in 1830 is still visible through the arch. The iconic species is now widespread throughout the state and has been renamed the California Pepper Tree.

The mission's museum gave us a detailed history of the area from the colonization of native Luiseno Indians by the Spanish priests, to the secularization of the mission by the Mexico government who sold off the land to ranchers and then under American control after the Mexican-American War when Abraham Lincoln returned the mission back to the Catholic Church. Inside, we also visited the Agapito Court and Sacred Garden, the private domains of the Franciscan Friars. Outside, we visited the adobe ruins of the barracks that housed the Spanish soldiers assigned to the mission. Our last stop was the old mission cemetery. The entrance arch still bears the skull and crossbones added by Disney while filming the Zorro tv show on location in 1957.

Leaving the mission, we stopped at the nearby San Luis Rey Pioneer Cemetery. The gate was closed but we could see into the old cemetery that was used to bury the dead of the non-Catholic pioneers to the area starting in the 1860s. Andrew Jackson Myers, the founder of Oceanside was buried here in 1907. After many years of abandonment and vandalization, the Oceanside Historical Society took over protection of the cemetery and the local Mormon Church helped renovate the site in 2013 in honor of their Mormon Battalion pioneers in San Diego. We ended our Oceanside visit with a tasty pasta dinner at nearby Mangia e Bevi.

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

New Year's Day Hike at Black's Beach (La Jolla Trail, Saigon Trail and Sand Trap Canyon)

On New Year's Day, we drove down to Black's Beach to hike the La Jolla Trail. We parked at the Torrey Pines Gliderport where the sky was full of paragliders riding the updrafts along the coastal bluffs.

We have been to Black's many times but we have never walked the La Jolla Trail that runs along the top of the bluff south of the the gliderport. There was a big swell that weekend so surfers were enjoying the big waves below.

Near the end of the trail, we approached the spot of the bluff collapse one year ago in January 2023 during a similar big ocean swell. Even though I am not afraid of heights, I was pretty nervous walking along the shear edge of the unstable bluff that I had watched collapse on the dramatic video posted to social media. Below, we could see the former peak now halfway down the slope.

At the end of the La Jolla Trail, we crawled down a steep path to meet up with the Saigon Trail. We had hiked up this sandstone canyon before but this was our first time descending which I found more challenging, even with better footwear. It was less crowded so we didn't have to wait as long to scramble through the narrow slot canyon.

Heading north along Black's Beach, we now had to walk around the collapsed cliff and boulder field that has now split the long single stretch of beach in two. Below, I have posted before and after pictures of the bluff so you can see the difference between now and January 2021.

Instead of walking back up the regular access trail, we continued north to Sand Trap Canyon along the edge of the Torrey Pines Golf Course. It was our first time climbing this steep switchback trail. This canyon was the turnaround point for the most of the paragliders and we had several fly right past us, skimming the edge of the cliff. The wind started to die down as we walked back to my truck and we saw several paragliders having to land on the beach as they lost too much altitude to land back at the gliderport.

Earlier on New Year's Day weekend, we went to Viewpoint Brewing Co. for dinner.  The brewery's back patio overlooks the Del Mar Racetrack and the San Dieguito River Park. After the earlier rain, we saw a rainbow shining over the lagoon among the beautiful clouds. We each ordered a beer flight to try a wide selection of their brews. Their Chicken Pot Pie was the best I have ever eaten. So delicious!

After our meal, we crossed over the bridge to visit the restored wetlands of the San Dieguito River Park on the Boardwalk Trail. The raised path out into the lagoon is a small spur off of the Coast to Crest Trail that skirts the northern edge of the entire lagoon and will eventually follow the entire length of the San Dieguito River to its source on Volcan Mountain in Julian.

We also visited the Old Grand Avenue Bridge on the south side of the lagoon that originally led out to a U.S. Navy Airfield during World War II. The airfield was used for dirigibles patrolling the coast for Japanese submarines before becoming a civilian airport after the war. The Del Mar Airport was closed in 1959 since its runway was directly in the path of the planned I-5 Freeway. Instead of the bridge being demolished during the wetland restoration project, it has been transformed into a lagoon viewing platform.